SAN JUAN City – Phoenix Petroleum-FEU formally booted out the ZC Mindanao Aguilas from the playoffs of the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup through a 89-68 spanking Monday (March 7) at the San Juan Arena. The Accelerators’ win also gave idle Wang’s Basketball a free ride into the playoffs as the eight seed.
Fighting for their playoff lives, the Aguilas put up a spirited stand in the first half behind Kenneth Acibar, Dexter Garcia and Eric Salamat for a 39-39 stalemate. It was a totally different story in the second half.
Returning to active duty after recovering from an injury, Ed Daquioag hit a triple that ended a seesaw battle and give the lead to Phoenix for good, 46-44. From there, Cotabato native Mac Belo went to work and unloaded nine markers that pushed the Accelarators to a 60-53 cushion.
Mike Tolomia, who is originally from Zamboanga, provided the most painful blows to the Aguilas with a 14-point explosion in the final canto that tore the game wide open. Phoenix reached its biggest lead of 13 points, 90-77, before Acibar hit a late triple for the final count.
Both the Aguilas and Wang’s finished the elimination round with similar 1-7 records. However, Wang’s will get the eighth and final spot and a clash with top seed CafeFrance-CEU owing to their 97-88 overtime win over Mindanao last January 28.
“This win is a big confidence boost for us entering the playoffs,” said Coach Eric Gonzales. “We will go all out to win Game One.”
Belo solidified his status as the league’s top scorer with 24 points on top of six rebounds. Daquioag followed with 22 points and four assists.
Acibar paced the Aguilas with 18 points. Garcia backed him with 16 points while Salamat added 12.
Despite the defeat, Aguilas coach Nino Rehji Natividad remained optimistic about the team’s future. “It was a learning experience for us this conference but I am happy that a lot of Zamboanga businessmen are interested to help the team,” said Coach Natividad, who admitted battling homesickness throughout the conference.
Caida Tiles 7-1
Phoenix Petroleum-FEU 6-2
QRS JAM Liner-UP 5-3
Tanduay Rhum 5-3
Banco de Oro-NU 2-6
AMA Online Education 2-6
Wang’s Basketball 1-7
ZC Mindanao Aguilas 1-7
Meanwhile, Caida Tiles manhandled Phoenix’ playoff opponent Banco de Oro-NU in a no-bearing contest to end the eliminations, 90-80. The Tile Masters will have AMA Online Education as their playoff foe.
Caida used a crippling 17-0 run spanning the third and fourth periods powered by the nine points of Philip Paniamogan to give them a 20-point bubble, 67-47. The Bulldogs never recovered as Roider Cabrera continued the onslaught as Caida built an 89-65 edge.
“AMA is a tough opponent because they always change their line-up so I don’t know who will play,” said Coach Carlos Garcia. “Seriously now, we have to play good defense and maintain our confidence to get Game One.”
Grey was the high man for Caida with 20 points, 12 coming in the second period, on top of five assists. Cabrera was next with 12 points, seven coming in the fourth period.
Alfred Aroga was the lone bright spot for BDO with 19 points and 11 rebounds. No other Bulldog hit twin digits with J-Jay Alejandro and Paolo Javelona netting nine markers each.
The playoffs will commence on Thursday (March 10) at the Ynares Sports Arena. CafeFrance and Wang’s open hostilities at 2:00 PM followed by fourth seed QRS JAM Liner-UP against fifth seed Tanduay Rhum at 4:00 PM.
The higher-ranked seeds will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage. The semifinals will be a best-of-three followed by a best-of-five championship.
How They Scored:
PHOENIX PETROLEUM-FEU (90) – Belo 24, Daquioag 22, Tolomia 14, Ru. Escoto 10, Andrada 6, Tamsi 6, Pascual 5, Inigo 3, Lee Yu 0, Ri. Escoto 0.
ZC MINDANAO (80) – Acibar 18, Garcia 16, Salamat 12, Sarangay 10, Celiz 9, Jumao-as 8, Villanueva 3, Ignacio 2, Ongteco 2, Julkipli 0, Argamino 0, Dadjilul 0.
Period Scores: 21-19, 39-39, 60-53, 90-80.
CAIDA TILES (89) – Grey 20, Cabrera 12, Paniamogan 12, Robles 11, Perkins 8, Corpuz 6, Parala 5, Jalalon 4, Lozada 3, Gabawan 2, Ruaya 2, Nambatac 2, Terso 2.
BANCO DE ORO-NU (68) – Aroga 19, Alejandro 9, Javelona 9, Salem 8, Salim 7, Labing-isa 6, Diputado 5, Tansingco 3, Perez 2, Yu 0. Rono 0.
Period Scores: 13-14, 39-31, 59-47, 89-68.